Looking at the seven clubs Juventus could have been matched up against in the Champions League Round of 16, there was no team that could characterized as “an easy draw.” The way the group stage went about this season, some of the European heavyweights were in play when Juventus’ ping-pong ball was pulled out of the bowl.
But, considering who was out there, Juve got a relatively good result.
Juventus’ knockout round journey and quest to get to Cardiff will take them through Portugal, as the winners of Group H were matched up against FC Porto during Monday afternoon’s Round of 16 draw. Real Madrid came and went. Bayern Munich came and went. Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain came and went, too. All of them not booking flights for a mid-March trip to Turin.
The first leg between Porto and Juventus will be played at the Estádio do Dragão in Portuga on Wednesday, Feb. 22. The second leg is set for Tuesday, March 14, at Juventus Stadium in Turin.
I guess with all of the reunions that a couple of Juventus’ players had with their former clubs in the group stage, seeing another key cog face an old team of theirs isn’t all that surprising. Although, as Alex Sandro did say a bit ago, he wanted Juventus and Porto to face one another in the Champions League final. But it will obviously be coming a little earlier than the Brazilian badass of a fullback had hoped for.
Based off what we found out last year, finishing first would have been the logical thing to shoot for because you’d be more than likely to avoid one of the Champions League favorites. But because of how the group stage worked out this season, the big boys of European football were also part of the eight runners up. That meant that a big-time clash was in the cards right out of the gate in the knockout stages. Luckily, Juventus was able to miss the likes of Bayern and Real Madrid for at least one more round.
Porto certainly does have its threats. People will talk about Gigi Buffon and Iker Casillas playing against one another for maybe one of the final times in their storied careers, but if you’re having a few scary thoughts about André Silva getting loose behind Juventus’ defense you’re probably not alone. That’s just what happens when a 21-year-old star in the making scores four goals in six group stage starts.
But, the draw could have been worse. I’m certainly not underestimating what Porto has to offer by any means, but I’m also quite pleased that we’re not sitting here talking about how Juventus’ Champions League run could be ended relatively early by Bayern Munich for the second straight season.